Just last week a teenager in Alexandra died a horrible death because of a stolen cell phone. Zanele (not her real name), whose parents had both died, was living with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle sent her to get his cell phone charged and on her way home she was mugged and the phone was stolen. When she arrived home without the phone her uncle flew into a blind rage, poured paraffin over her and set her alight.
She died. Killed for a cell phone!
Zanele was part of a girls support group connected with our Rays of Hope Child-headed Household (CHH) ministry. Understandably the other girls and our Rays of Hope staff members involved in Alex have been deeply traumatized by this senseless and brutal murder of one of their own. With the Lord’s help they are seeking to help one another come to terms with it. Zanele’s uncle is in police custody and her aunt has fled to who knows where.
This is just one example of the heartbreak and pain that our Rays of Hope team encounters almost weekly as they serve the poor and needy, the helpless, homeless, and hopeless in Alexandra. Orphaned children, pregnant teenagers, single mothers, unemployed fathers, tired grannies are all on the receiving end of the love of Jesus, his saving gospel, and the practical help that comes to them in a steady stream from RUC through our Rays of Hope staff and volunteers.
One of the things that makes me most proud to be part of RUC is the vibrancy and variety of our social concern ministry, particularly focused on Alexandra. In one way or another hundreds of members of the RUC family are involved and are making a difference in the lives of those who Jesus referred to as “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” (Matthew 25:40). James reminds us that,
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . .”
And Proverbs 19:17 declares that
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”
Caring for the poor is not an option for the Christ-follower, and living in South Africa where the poor and needy crowd in on us at every turn provides us with abundant opportunities to show our true colours as Christians and make a difference in the lives of others.
May God save us from the hard-heartedness that constant confrontation with the poor can lead to, and may he guide us as we serve Christ by serving his poor.
My thanks to our Rays of Hope staff and volunteers, and to all who give in countless ways. You will be rewarded for what you do.
Your friend and pastor,